1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Watch you, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.…
1. When Francis Xavier was passing through Navarre to his great life mission, he had to pass his ancestral castle. His companion asked whether he did not mean to visit his friends before he left Spain for ever. "I defer that happiness," he quietly answered, "until I shall see them in heaven." It was the manly utterance of a noble heart.
2. In the days of chivalry there was an ideal life, which our own matter-of-fact generation is disposed to despise. Underneath much that was over-strained and unnatural, there was taught a spirit of reverence, obedience, truth, and virtue, which it would be well for the world if they might be again brought back among us.
3. Even after the Fall man did not altogether lose the image of his Maker, and there is still left to him a portion which we call manliness. It is displayed by heroes on battle-fields, but the highest manifestation of it is in the consistent lives of devoted Christians. True manliness —
I. IS WHOLLY INCOMPATIBLE WITH A HALF-WAY AND RELUCTANT OBEDIENCE. If the religion of Christ be true, it is manly to confess it, and to act out our belief. They who receive the gospel in a manly spirit will shrink from no duty nor danger. Even the world will respect us when we are true to our principles. When Charles II visited Winchester during the building of his palace there, Dr. Ken was asked to entertain one of the king's concubines. This the good clergyman positively refused to do and Charles was much incensed. Again the application was made, and the stern response was, "Not for his kingdom!" Not long after, the bishopric of Bath and Wells became vacant, and Charles said, "No one shall have it but the little fellow who would not give poor Nelly a lodging!"
II. SUPPOSES PERSEVERING" PERSISTENCY IN THE RIGHT, no matter what dangers may threaten. Soon after the Christian missionaries had settled in Fiji, the heathen held a cannibal feast in front of their residence. Shocked at the sight, the good men closed their doors and windows, when the savages insisted that they should come out and witness the custom. The captain of an American ship-of-war, hearing the startling tidings, came at once to the relief of the brave men, and offered to remove them to a place of safety. "No," was the firm response; "the worse these people are, the more need of our staying where we are to teach them better." When an insurrection broke out in Madagascar some time ago, before the soldiers set off, the great national idol was to be dragged forth to strengthen them for the conflict. It so happened that three hundred of the soldiers had cast off idolatry, many of whom began to waver, some through fear of death, others through love of wife and children. The leader of the party then read from the New Testament, "He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me"; "He that loveth his life more than Me, is not worthy of Me." It was enough, and all agreed to stand the fiery ordeal. The commanding officer was much enraged, and said, in a threatening tone, "The god will avenge himself upon them!" The army marched forth to meet the insurgents, and came up to them in a deep ravine. Here the Christians were made to take the front rank, and their enemies believed that their destruction was inevitable. The hand of God so arranged the order of battle, that the expected course of events was reversed, and the Christians were left unharmed.
III. MEANS INDIFFERENCE TO THE SHAFTS OF RIDICULE. A poor man, being much laughed at for his religion, was asked whether these constant, petty persecutions did not sometimes half tempt him to abandon it. "No, indeed," he answered; "If Christians are so foolish as to let such people laugh them out of their religion, until at last they drop into hell, it is certain they cannot laugh them out again." A young friend was making his first trip in a steamer, when his acquaintance was cultivated by a handsomely dressed person, who did his best to play the agreeable. Toward the close of day, the stranger remarked, in an indifferent tone, "Some friends of mine are to have a nice game to-night, in my state-room, and we shall be glad to have you join us." Taking out his pocket prayer-book, he answered, "This is the only card I ever play with!"
IV. INVOLVES PROMPT AND VIGOROUS ACTION. Good resolutions are not enough; they must be followed up closely and persistently by becoming deeds. A little boy in Holland was returning home one night, when he observed the water trickling through a narrow crevice in the dyke. He had often heard of the sad disasters which had happened from these small beginnings, and his first thought was to hasten home for help, but he remembered that even during his brief absence the opening might so increase as to defy all attempts to close it. Seating himself on the bank of the canal, he stopped the leakage with his band, and in cold and darkness sat by his post of duty until dawn of day. Assistance then came, the dyke was repaired, and hundreds of lives were saved. Do you ever think what a tide of wretchedness and ruin you may be the means of turning aside from multitudes of immortal beings, if you would faithfully use your daily and hourly opportunities of good?
(J. N. Norton, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.